Misleading advertisements and fraudulent claims made for worthless products are a persistent problem in the energy-management field, with the perpetrators often exercising ‘pincer movement’ sales tactics by recruiting their victims’ directors as allies. Vilnis Vesma, an energy management consultant and trainer, recently researched the field and identified ten hallmarks of dodgy products. He has produced a short guidance document which explains them and suggests ways of discouraging suspect salesmen.

Only one of the hallmarks – failure to conform to known scientific principles – is conclusive, says Vesma, but not all buyers will remember enough school science to be sure of their ground. On the other hand he recognises that claims for high percentage savings, one of the other nine signs, will be genuine for some classes of product and cannot be used on its own as a test. He concludes that a product exhibiting four or more of his ten hallmarks is likely to be useless, and in suggesting a tactic for resisting sales pressure he cites a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority.

Vesma’s guidance paper, “Too good to be true: bogus energy-saving products”, can be obtained by sending an email to Vilnis@Vesma.com with “BOGPROD”  in the subject line.